Thoughts on writing

Does Word Processing Make us Better Writers?

I’m near completing a 3,000 word article. The stats are staggering. 172 revisions? To make clear, 172 is the number of  times a file was saved. There could be many, many edits done in between saves. I may have made 500 individual edits in this document. That number is certainly within reason.

Writing with a word processor makes for easier composing but also for endless editing. Are we more efficient than in long hand? Better? It would be interesting to compare a 3,000 word article written in long hand to one on the same subject done on a word processor. Which one would be completed first? Which would be clearer and more forceful?

I certainly would not make 172 revisions of a manuscript in long hand or on a creaky old typewriter. At some point I would pronounce the manuscript good and kick it out the door.

The old timers produced most of the great books without sitting behind a computer. I am dumfounded by their ability. Perhaps they were better at thinking through their work before committing pen to paper. Perhaps some had secretaries to revise and rewrite their work. Perhaps they worked out an efficient personal method that produced good results. Whatever. I am still staggered.

Other thoughts. 775 minutes is almost 13 hours. That’s close to reality. I’ve been good about closing this file each time I stopped. So I think the count is accurate. To explain, in a Word document the internal timer is always running if a file is open and in front. If you go get coffee the timer continues to tick. Be sure then to close a file whenever you stop working on it.

To access your file’s statistics do this: Open your document. Then choose File > Properties > Statistics.